ok, so Davezilla gave me a suggestion after answering my question in another thread. So I followed his suggestion, but I'm bringing it back to this thread as it is more relevant to my "journey" as this thread title alludes too.
Thanks Davezilla, I have started trimming the skirt for the intake outlet. I wasn't sure about what you meant with the 5mm, so I scribed the overhang section of the skirt and removed it. It was slow going as I still can't sit for long stretches, so a lot of breaks. I don't know how perfect the match is yet, as I don't want to put it into the sleeve until I clean up my sloppy scuffs (should have taped it off). pictures show what I mean.
on a side note, I looked at breaking the crankcase open. one of the two flat head screws that basically go through the front mount started to slip, so I stopped. I might just need a bigger screwdriver for better